Former Niger-Delta Minister, Godsday Orubebe has appealed his conviction by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) on a charge of false asset declaration.
In a notice of appeal filed in Abuja Wednesday by his lawyer, Selekeowei Larry (SAN), Orubebe urged the Court of Appeal to set aside the October 4, 2016 judgement of the CCT.
He raised three grounds of appeal, arguing among others, that the tribunal misdirected itself in reaching its decision that was not supported by evidence led by the prosecution.
Orubebe argued that the tribunal erred in law when it held that the prosecution proved its case and ordered the forfeiture of the property in issue, Plot 2057 Asokoro District, to the Federal Government, “without any proof of the offence, thereby occasioning gross miscarriage of justice.”
He argued that Plot 2057 was not acquired corruptly nor even purchased by him, but was a gift to him by the Federal Government. “It is a piece of empty land in the bush.
Orubebe said he led credible evidence, which the prosecution did not fault, about how he sold the house to a company called Divention Properties Limited, with the company’s Managing Director, Akinwumi Ajibola testifying to that effect during trial.
He faulted the CCT for holding that he remained the owner of the plot of land on the grounds that Divention, to who the property was sold, did not effect change of ownership.
“Not only were the deed of assignment, deed of sale and power of Attorney tendered and admitted in evidence, defence witnesses one and two (Ajibola and Orubebe) testified to the transaction without any contradiction. There is no time limit for regularisation of title at the Land Registry,” he said.
Orubebe further argued against the decision of the CCT, to the effect that it erred in law when, rather than keeping itself within the evidence before it and the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal (CCB/T) Act, it went and relied on the Land Instrument Registration Act (LIRA), without hearing from counsel on both sides.
“The tribunal has no power beyond the provisions of the CCB/T Act as incorporated under the 5th Schedule of the Constitution.
“The tribunal lacks the jurisdiction to interpret and sanction under the LIRA, 2007, which neither provides a time limit for the registration of title, nor any sanction for delayed registration,” he said.
Orubebe further argued, through his lawyer, that “the judgment did not in any way contemplate our law. Our law does not ascribe ownership of a plot of land to a person, who had divested his/her interest by selling to another person.
“In fact it was made very clear to the tribunal that the transaction was completed well before his last declaration of assets alleged to be in breach of the CCB/T Act.
“Assuming, without conceding) that Orubebe did not declare the said Plot 2057 Asokoro, it would still not amount to an infraction of the Act, because it (the plot) was a gift to him by the Federal Government.
“For a non-declaration to amount to an infraction of the Act, the property in question must have been acquired with some income reasonably attributable to corruption. In one sentence, the judgment by the CCT is a travesty of justice,” he said.